My Nephew and The Grim-Looking Musicians


My two and a half-year old nephew had come to stay with us last year during the holidays, with his parents.

He took time to adjust to his new environs. We allowed him to explore our home at his own pace. Left to himself, he walked around, curious, touching this, feeling that.

I wondered what my home looked like from his height. He spent a lot of time getting on and off the small step between the living room and the kitchen. When he caught us staring, he would laugh and run away to find his mom.

However, there was one thing that puzzled me about his morning sojourns in the living room.

We have a set of rather grim-looking musician dolls made of wood, from India, in our living room.

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The Grim Musicians

Almost every day that he was in our home, my nephew went to these dolls, touched one of them in particular, for a while. His lips then trembled; and his eyes blinked rapidly and filled with tears.

He would then walk away trying to compose himself, and was soon distracted by other things.

We wondered if the grim-musicians with their big eyes and dark mustaches where scaring our little boy. But we reasoned that if he was afraid he wouldn’t keep going to touch them everyday. The same routine continued everyday and our puzzle remained unsolved.

Just two days before he left, he was back with the grim-musicians on his morning beat, and looked up at us with eyes brimming with tears.

When my sister asked him why he was sad, we finally had an answer. In his baby voice he replied, “Grampa is singing…Grampa is singing.”

He burst into tears. We then realized that his paternal grandfather has a mustache, and also sings to him everyday.

In one of those grim-faced musicians, he saw his grampa and probably pined for him everyday.

We gathered him for a collective bear-hug, and then connected him on Skype to his grampa.